The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers

Alice Hoffman

Just like the Saudi women who competed in the 2012 Olympics for the first time, this novel draws on the strength of four exceptional women under the constraints of a patriarchal religious society. It is an inspirational and powerful historic epic, set prior to the siege of Masada in 70AD. The intense, evocative narrative captures raw determination; its haunting prose propelling me through a marathon of emotions.

Extract

I would not move when my father shouted at me, or when he raised his hand to me. In the end my father had to bury them. It was a woman’s place to ready bodies for the Angel of Death and chant lamentations, then to set herself aside until the spectre of death was no longer with her, but I refused. Welts rose across my back and shoulders when my father beat me, but I would not be his dog on this day. My father shouted out that I was a coward, afraid to see the needs of the dead, but he was wrong. I wasn’t afraid to be unclean any more than I was afraid of the dead. I only feared that if I held Ben Simon for too long, I wouldn’t be able to let him go.

Parallels
  • Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  • Anything by Louis de Bernieres

Books with similar mood

Thus Bad Begins

Javier Marías

Maps of the Soul

Ahmed Fagih

Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote

Ahmadou Kourouma

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Madeleine Thien

The Dream of the Celt

Mario Vargas Llosa

Forty Days Without Shadow

Olivier Truc

The Blindman's Garden

Nadeem Aslam

The Forgetting Time

Sharon Guskin

The Prophets of Eternal Fjord

Kim Leine

The House of Shattered Wings

Aliette de Bodard

The Impressionist

Hari Kunzru

The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood

My Absolute Darling

Gabriel Tallent

Endgame

Ahmet Altan

The People's Train

Thomas Keneally

Night Train to Lisbon

Pascal Mercier

Fires in the Dark

Louise Doughty

The Mulberry Empire

Philip Hensher

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu

As Though She Were Sleeping

Elias Khoury

House of Stone

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman

The Gallows Pole

Benjamin Myers

The Daughters of Mars

Thomas Keneally

The Spanish Bow

Andromeda Romano-Lax

The Meaning of Night

Michael Cox

Quicksilver

Christie Dickason

The Parisian

Isabella Hammad

The Vorrh

Brian Catling

The Lives of Others

Neel Mukherjee

The Distance

Helen Giltrow

The Polished Hoe

Austin Clarke

Artemisia

Alexandra Lapierre

My Name is Red

Orhan Pamuk

The Visit of the Royal Physician

Per Olov Enquist

The Nautical Chart

Arturo Perez-Reverte

Altered Land

Jules Hardy

A Place of Greater Safety

Hilary Mantel

Psychoraag

Suhayl Saadi

Tirzah and the Prince of Crows

Deborah Kay Davies

The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder

Sarah Harris

We That Are Young

Preti Taneja

Mrs Lincoln

Janis Cooke Newman

The Island of Lost Souls

Martyn Bedford

The Night of the Mi'raj

Zoe Ferraris

Seventh Gate

Richard Zimler

Gate of the Sun

Elias Khoury

The Historian

Elizabeth Kostova

City of the Beasts

Isabel Allende